Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Print a Degree Symbol

For navigators this frequent task is fundamental for computer communications, else we end up with 47d or  47deg or 47*, or worse just 47, when we want 47°.  And once we start down that path we might get to 47d 32.1'  a mixed format that can lead to confusion, or 47d 32.1m, mixing up days and minutes notation with angular degrees and minutes. It is unforgivable that some soccer TV shows we watch abbreviate 32m 10s as 32' 10". Good communication is a key to good navigation.

Those well versed in computer work know where to find such special characters and how to execute them, but it is hard to beat a simple prescription. So here it is:

In a desktop PC, or laptop with a keyboard that has a number pad to the right of the keys, first be sure the Number Lock is on (top left of number pad with a light somewhere indicating on), and then press and hold the Alt key as you type 0176 on the number keypad, ie Alt + 0176 to get °. 

Without the Number Lock on, you can get almost anything popping up or shifting windows, etc when you type this, depending on what program you have open.  It does not work with the numbers at the top of the keyboard.

For a Mac, the procedure is Option + 0 (the digit zero) to get °. It works in just about any app on the machine, and no need for a number pad, so laptops are fine.

For a PC laptop without a number pad, it is doable but simply too messy to consider a generic solution. In MS Word and other programs that allow for Auto Correct, we simply define Shift + * = ° and use that, which is faster than the number pad solution.

Related symbols are ± which is Alt + 0177 on PC or Shift + Option + = on the Mac.

In our online classroom forms we have set up a special character set ( ie Ctrl+1 = °, etc. ), but these only work with our online discussion and quiz forms. See Course Overview.  The standard ones listed above will also work in our courses.


  1. With that all said, do not hesitate to post questions in our online courses simply because the full degree sign is not working… in the classroom 47* is completely clear and it is far more important to ask the question or post the comment than to bother about the symbols. I only note this today as we had an issue of angle convention come up in cel nav that did indeed lead to a an error and we do get the question periodically.

  2. I have a tablet and an e-reader. I prefer the readers,I am also search technique how to work a Print a Degree Symbol,updated information is very informative.Thank you so much !!